Let’s Start a Small House Movement (Not Tiny)


Tiny houses may be super trendy right now, but small houses are actually the smarter and better home solutions for many people and families.

Tiny houses might have inspired dozens of how-to websites, a few HGTV shows, admiring pins, and earnest documentaries. But small houses (500-1000 sq. feet) are also gaining in popularity.

I recently attended the US Department of Energy’s 2017 Solar Decathlon in Denver, CO, where 12 US and International University teams competed to design and build solar-powered, technologically advanced homes.

These teams built full-sized, fully functional homes. Per Solar Decathlon rules, the homes had to be under 1000 sq. ft. Most were 2 bedroom houses, and some even had 2 bathrooms.

Out of all 12 homes, only 1 of them seemed too small (but that’s because it was a true “tiny” house with less than 200 sq. ft and built on a trailer).

But, all the other homes were well-designed and utilized open concept living to maximize “living” space. Most of the homes had decent kitchen and bathroom sizes. I could have lived comfortably in 10 of the homes.

According to one of the teams, their 900+ sq. foot, 2-bed, 1 bath house with a nice sized kitchen, would cost around $250,000 to build (including the Tesla Solar Powerwall).

Most families up until the last few decades lived in similar sized homes. In the 1950s, the average-size of a new house in the U.S. was around 850 square feet. Now, the average home is about 2,700 square feet, but families have gotten smaller due to having less kids.

Finally it seems more and more people are interested in having smaller homes with smaller utility bills, less stuff and less of an environmental impact.

Some tiny houses are super cute, but so far, most tiny houses are not legal in many towns and cities as a full-time dwelling. Building them on trailers means that they don’t have to meet certain building codes. Bringing in the potential for unregulated and unsafe dwellings.

However, legislation might also need to catch up with the growing popularity and demand for smaller houses. This blogger at Keep Thrifty discusses his family’s hassles to finding a smaller home.

I do believe that we can start with the building companies. If we start demanding smaller, more economical and environmental houses, maybe we will start seeing more planned neighborhoods and communities centered around the idea of less environmental impact living that is also affordable for families.